Download Gods in the Bazaar: The Economies of Indian Calendar Art by Kajri Jain PDF

By Kajri Jain

Gods within the Bazaar is an engaging account of the published photographs identified in India as “calendar paintings” or “bazaar art,” the color-saturated, industrially produced images usually used on calendars and in ads, that includes deities and different non secular subject matters in addition to nationalist leaders, eye-catching girls, motion picture stars, obese infants, and landscapes. Calendar artwork seems to be in all demeanour of contexts in India: in stylish elite residing rooms, middle-class kitchens, city slums, village huts; held on partitions, caught on scooters and desktops, propped up on machines, affixed to dashboards, tucked into wallets and lockets. during this superbly illustrated publication, Kajri Jain examines the facility that calendar paintings wields in Indian mass tradition, arguing that its meanings derive as a lot from the creation and movement of the pictures as from their visible features.

Jain attracts on interviews with artists, printers, publishers, and shoppers in addition to analyses of the prints themselves to track the economies—of artwork, trade, faith, and desire—within which calendar photographs and concepts approximately them are formulated. For Jain, an research of the bazaar, or vernacular advertisement area, is essential to realizing not just the calendar artwork that circulates in the bazaar but additionally India’s postcolonial modernity and the ways in which its mass tradition has constructed in shut reference to a religiously inflected nationalism. The bazaar is characterised by means of the coexistence of probably incompatible components: bourgeois-liberal and neoliberal modernism at the one hand, and vernacular discourses and practices at the different. Jain argues that from the colonial period to the current, capitalist enlargement has trusted the upkeep of those a number of coexisting geographical regions: the sacred, the economic, and the creative; the reliable and the vernacular.

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Additional info for Gods in the Bazaar: The Economies of Indian Calendar Art

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Chapter 3 (‘‘Naturalizing the Popular’’) continues the chronological trace of images CALENDAR ART AS AN OBJECT OF KNOWLEDGE 25 in the commodity realm, positioning calendar art in relation to other twentieth-century culture industries such as the cinema and illustrated magazines as well as to commodity aesthetics as such: labels, packaging, and advertising. Against accounts of Indian popular aesthetics that see this as an iconic realm distinct from and resistant to Western canons of naturalism and realism, I argue for a more historically informed understanding of the ‘‘popular,’’ which acknowledges its constitution via the commodity realm and its appropriation of new image-making techniques.

Here I revisit an earlier set of debates around the emergence of a new figure in calendar art, that of the god Ram in a muscular, violent form, with the resurgence of a militant Hindu nationalism in the late 1980s. What I both argue and try to demonstrate is that what is required from critique in this context is not so much the condemnation or censorship of particular kinds of images, which chiefly serves to shore up their power and efficacy, but a creative, expropriative reframing within the context of alternative narratives.

As a result, there are two sets of issues that remain unaddressed in relation to mass-produced prints, and indeed to commodities in general (although studies of commercial cinema have touched on them: see, for instance, Prasad 1998). The first set of issues pertains to the varied processes by which heterogeneous constituencies of people are brought into networks of centralized commodity manufacture, circulation, and consumption. The second pertains to the distinctive character that these capitalist networks take on through being forged in articulation with existing economic, political, and social formations.

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